SES NYC 2011: ‘Enterprise Level SEO’

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Enterprise Level SEO

Session description: Topics include SEO tactics specific to large sites, the challenges of educating key stakeholders in the organization including budgeting issues, and implementation hurdles common to large organizations including CMS issues and IT team challenges. This session will also include a proven model of organization for your enterprise level SEO campaign as well as a summary of key metrics that you should be measuring to drive ongoing SEO strategy.

Moderator: Bill Hunt, SES Advisory Board & President, Back Azimuth Consulting
Eddie Choi, SES Advisory Board & Managing Director, Frontiers Digital
Crispin Sheridan, SES Advisory Board & Sr Director of Search Marketing Strategy, SAP
Avi Wilensky, Founder and CEO, Promediacorp
Andy Milburn, Director of Digital Strategy, American Express Interactive

The skinny

It must be blue button-down shirt day, and nearly everyone on the panel got the memo. Crispin is the outlier.

What they said

Crispin: Enterprise SEO and SAP

SAP’s enterprise level issues include:

  • Long sales cycles
  • Large sites
  • Educating many stakeholders
  • Securing budgeting
  • Implementation hurdles (CMS issues, IT team challenges, complex cross organizational teams)
  • Complex competitive environment

Key justification for SEO for the C-set: “Why is SEO important? It’s where everyone is clicking. No-brainer there.”

To help secure budget for SEO from enterprise-level clients:
1. Track your full SEO impact (macro/micro conversions, value and track them), and quantify how much business value you generate
2. Project the value of new SEO driven content (when you fill content gaps, you’ll drive incremental “value”)

Look at the traffic that’s coming back to your site from social media: it may be converting better.


1. Determine your special enterprise challenges and value drivers
2. Identify the greatest ares of opportunity
3. Test, measure and promote your success (to colleagues and management)

Avi: 9 enterprise SEO problems and how to solve them with crowdsourcing

Challenge 1: Heaps of content (alt tags, title tags, etc.) lacking meta data.
Solution 1: Build crowds of workers who are specialized around tasks with pre-qualification exams. (Cites example of using Michael Jackson fans to tag images and videos for Sony.)

Challenge 2: Duplicate content, often caused by globalization of sites.
Solution 2: Humans are good at flagging duplicate content.

Challenge 3: Lots of user generated content requiring oversight, moderation, spam removal.
Solution 3: Let the crowd clean the conversation. Example: let the crowd mark items as spam. One of our Sony artist sites got spammed to death and kicked out of Google, and we had to incorporate human beings.

Challenge 4: Getting everyone on the same page.
Solution 4: Create a collaborative SEO Wiki. List best practices, and make sure that everyone can contribute and access quality information. Consider using MediaWiki, which is free and runs on the Wikipedia platform.

Challenge 5: Many CMS types requiring specialists.
Solution 5: Find the specialists on Odesk,, Elance. You can see how many are in the marketplace and see their work. Leverage these platforms for niche tasks.

Challenge 6: Scalable sources of linkbait.
Solution 6: Use niche content development platforms. For graphics: 99 Designs. Copy: Textbroker. Video: Tongal. Music: Musikpitch. Creativity: CreativeRocket—crowds can come up with linkbait ideas for you!

Challenge 7: Global/translation
Solution 7: Translation and crowdsourcing is a match made in heaven. Leverage Mturk’s workers in 190+ countries. Pre-qualify workers for knowledge of both languages. Use prebuilt, pre-qualified translation crowds. Try, and OneHourTranslation.

Challenge 8: Large scale keyword research.
Solution 8: Tap into the wisdom of the crowds. What keywords do my competitors have on their sites? Use video/audio transcription services, such as Speakertext or Speechpad.

Challenge 9: Link reclamation: losing your link juice!
Solution 9: Feed 404s from Google Webmaster Tools in. Have crowd match old to the new. Look for sources that cite without a hyperlink (those that build lists).

Andrew: Driving Enterprise SEO “Maturity”

American Express has extremely complex systems. Why is SEO important to us? American Express wants to get their voice heard; they want to be driving the conversation. It’s about putting your voice into the market.

We’re driving maturity with four steps:

1. Educate and raise awareness. Make sure there is ownership of SEO.
2. Demonstrate sustained success. Show senior leadership the value of SEO, driving forward on KPIs, showing how we’re balancing SEO and SEM.
3. Drive significant improvement.
4. Institutionalization means align strategic and digital marketing.

Make sure SEO standards are in place. Don’t compete on keywords internally—that’s most effective when it’s centrally managed. Don’t get bogged down with daily business; make sure people are sharing developments in search and social spaces. Engage with your creative advertising and marketing partners—have technology at the table with a voice. If you have multiple data sources and need to report analytics, endeavor to have a single source of data for your KPIs.

Most important: have an enterprise search team.

We have learned a few lessons:

1. Fix SEO from the beginning: it’s harder to fix after an agency launches a campaign.
2. Educate everyone: SEO impacted by everything (changes to URL, content, site architecture etc.)
3. Measure success: KPIs at all levels, which allows you to react to change
4. Central governance: It’s key to track compliance to standards centrally
5. Build a community: Find passionate people who make a difference, who see the value of SEO
6. It’s a journey: Make someone responsible for driving

Eddie: Enterprise SEO and China

A common question about SEO and China: “Should I use Google?” Data shows that people are using Google every day, but Baidu has 75-85% of market share.

Things to know about Baidu:

Baidu puts ads with organic results, and you’re competing with the search engine itself. Display ads are large and can push down SERPs. Baidu can be good and bad at the same time: good for SEM and bad for SEO.

Optimizing for Baidu (direct from Baidu’s guidelines):
Don’t use Flash or Javascript for content.
Don’t use AJAX for navigation and content.
Do not use iFrame.

For eCommerce, there’s a household name for online shopping: They offer tools that are even better than Baidu for research and management. Use them.

Audience participation

Q: “Are there tools that help you benchmark success for enterprise SEO?”
Andrew: We use several metrics and tools. We like the ones that tell you what’s good for individual pages.
Bill: Conductor is sponsoring this room, so we’ll mention them, Bruce Clay, BrightEdge—there are lots of tools. The key is to determine your KPIs and metrics first and then find the right tool.

Q: “How do you come up with goals … for the year or the quarter?”
Crispin: Budgets are dedicated to PPC, but data can show that organic search pays off.
Andrew: We probably don’t spend as much time as we should. We’re looking for continued increase in performance for SEO for American Express. From an enterprise perspective, I want to know month and month out and week and week out steady improvement.

Q: “What order do you hire people?”
Crispin: We have eight. It started with just me. We got budget for paid search first, and so we dedicated a person for that. Then, on to regional focus, and we hired in our regions. Then content, social media, etc. It was a slow process … about one per year. All of that for eight people.
Andrew: There’s always a centralized/decentralized/centralized/decentralized thing in large organizations.